27 December 2011

Dammam Airport Pools - Location Details

Dammam Airport Pools is a good birding site near to Dammam, Dhahran and Al Khobar and is a large reedbed created by run off, I ssume, from the airport and holds water all year around. The surrounding Sabkha (salt pans) is also good for birds with breeding Black-crowned Sparrow Lark and Greater Hoopoe-Lark. The sparse vaegetaion around the sabkha is also good for migrants in the migartion season.

The site is easily reached by car by following directions to King Fahd International Airport in Dammam. Continue past the airport, which will be on the left hand side of the road if coming from Dhahran, until the road takes a sharp bend to the right. Continue on for about two kilometres and then take the first 'U' turn and start coming back towards the airport. After a hundred metres or so you will see a track off into the desert on the right hand side of the road. Take this track and head towards the reed beds. There are quite obvious tracks around the edge of the entire reed bed as well as a single track through the reeds that is driable. It is best to have a four-wheel drive vehicle for this site as the sabkha and sand is sot in places and it it possible to get stuck. Getting out and walking into the reed beds affords views of the waters edge but the water birds are very flighty due to the amount of shooting that can go on at this site.

Good roads lead to the airport from all directions and it can be rached in about fourty minutes from Dhahran. There are a couple of police checkpoints on the road but you very rarely, if ever, get stopped at these. Take your identity card or passport with you just in case you are stopped.

Specialties seen at the site include:-
Cream-coloured Courser (July & August is the best time)
Black-crowned Sparrow Lark
Lesser Short-toed Lark
Greater Hoopoe Lark
European Turtle Dove
Marsh Harrier
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
European Bee-eater
European (Caspian) Reed Warbler (A s fuscus)
Clamrous Reed Warbler(A s brunnescens)
Common Cuckoo
Eurasian Wryneck
Ducks and Grebes.